The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment insurance fell by 27,000 to 341,000 in the latest week, the Labor Department reported.
In earnings news, General Motors (Fortune 500) released quarterly results that , missed expectations, sending shares slightly lower in premarket trading. PepsiCo (Fortune 500) logged better-than-expected earnings, and shares edged 2% higher. ,
As of Wednesday, 65% of the companies in the S&P 500 that had reported fourth-quarter earnings came in ahead of analysts' expectations, according to S&P Capital IQ. But the bulk of companies that have issued guidance for the first quarter had a negative outlook.
U.S. stock futures were lower ahead of the open.
Shares of Constellation Brands ( surged in premarket trading after )Anheuser-Busch InBev ( agreed to give up key assets in an effort to address antitrust issues related to is proposed takeover of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo. )
Cisco (Fortune 500) shares fell 2% in premarket trading, after Cisco CEO John Chambers took a cautious tone with his outlook as the company , reported earnings roughly in line with forecasts. Shares of Mondelez ( sank 5% after the food producer logged earnings that missed expectations after the close on Wednesday. )
U.S. stocks finished mixed Wednesday, struggling to find momentum to push toward record highs.
The Nikkei added 0.5% despite data showing Japan's economy has contracted in each of the three most recent quarters. The weak performance is likely to increase the clamor for more aggressive fiscal and monetary stimulus measures.
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